I had a brave mother moment and drove the 10 hours from Santa Monica to a little town nestled at the base of mountains called Mapleton, Utah where my parents live. And I did that alone with my 4 and 2 year old boys. Although I was worried about it, my boys have done this drive many times so I knew what to expect and thought I might as well try it. Luckily for me, they were by far the best behaved than they've ever been on a road trip, so everything worked out awesome. Unfortunately, we just missed seeing Andrea on her month long trip to Utah though!
I will be staying at my parents house for two weeks. You may remember a post I did about my parents awesome playroom here
(where my boys are currently occupying themselves as I type), but I thought I'd share another feature of this home that I love.
Below is a picture of cabinets in my parents kitchen. But do you see a little light shining through the bottom of the middle cabinet?...
I love a pleasant unexpected surprise, don't you? Behind the hidden door is the pantry. They can keep the door closed and you wouldn't think anything was there, or you can hook a hinge to keep it open if you need to keep going in and out. It also has an automatic light so it turns on when you go in, and turns off after a couple minutes of no one being in there.
Here's a view of the inside of the pantry (sorry for the yellow lighting...). The upper and lower cabinets on the left side are all closed storage, and the storage on the right side is all open, with drawers that slide out on the bottom section. You can also see that around the corner there is another fridge and freezer.
Isn't that fun? I love the unusual, unexpected aspect of it. Do you have any little surprises like this in your home? Or have you seen any fun ideas online that you love? I'd love to hear about it!
Soap Stone Counter Top and Sink
I am helping a friend pick finishes for her new home and I wanted to do an over view of what is available. There are a lot of options out there, but as you look through the list, the choices narrow fairly quickly according to needs and budget.
This is a workhorse option. Very easy to clean, resistant to scratching, can handle a hot pot, and mostly stain resistant. I've heard that over time the surface becomes a bit dull, that it can lose it's shine. And of course it has a very limited aesthetic application;meaning it would be difficult to put stainless steel counter tops in anything but an industrial or modern kitchen.
Granite used to be the counter top option, and for good reason. It's beautiful, and can be found in a wide variety of colorways. It's very easy to clean, difficult to scratch, and has a high sheen. I have been told it is the perfect choice for a pastry chef! Since it is a natural product there are natural variations in the veining and the colors are usually darker than say marble or a light engineered stone.
Ceramic tile can be inexpensive, durable, and comes in a wide range of colors and sheens. When we bought our house it came with granite counter tops, in large tiles. I know that the previous owners picked this option because it cost less than buying one large piece of granite and having it cut to size. I would say that the biggest disadvantage here are the small grout lines that are more difficult to clean than a solid piece would be, but over all it's been workable.
We lived in a rental for a couple of years that had butcher block countertops. They looked extremely warm and held up pretty well. These countertops do take more maintenance as they need to be sealed often, and scratches need to be oiled. The rental we were in had butcher block around the sink, this area did not hold up well. This specific area darkened and warped and stood out from the rest of the surface.
This surface is found in historic and period homes. It is dark gray and often has a matching sink. It has found place in the modern kitchen as well as it is smooth and really lovely. It does require some maintenance and it can crack over time if not properly cared for. This is also an alternative to concrete countertops, but appears more chalky and is decidedly softer.
We see the surface a lot in shelter magazine and TV shows. It is beautiful and expensive. It is also porous, so it can stain. It is not as hard as granite, so scratching is also a concern. The honed finish on marble can fade if an acidic material, such as vinegar, is spilled.
Laminate has come along way. There are times when it is difficult to tell from a distance that something is laminate and not a natural stone. It's main advantage is price, it is the least expensive option out there. Laminate is not as scratch resistant, durable, or heat resistant as stone. In fact I would say it is not heat resistant at all as it will bubble terribly if a hot pan were to rest on it. I have never seen it applied as a solid surface.
This category contains Sile Stone, and Cambria Quartz. These surfaces are great because they don't require the annual maintenance of stone, but provide similar levels of stain protecting, heat resistance, and scratch resistance. The colorways on this surface are endless.
These surfaces are solid throughout, meaning that they can be sanded down to fix scratches. The most popular solid surface that I know of is Corian. They are not heat resistant, but somewhat stain resistant. Not as expensive as stone.
Concrete countertops have gained in popularity over the past ten years especially. This is because they can provide a seamless surface, can be poured in house to fit your space exactly, and can be tinted a variety of colors. If sealed properly it is resistant to stain, and of course it can handle heat!
Do you have any experience with these different surfaces? We'd love to hear your opinion!
My friend Colleen asked for some help choosing a new paint color for her kitchen. She had picked a paint color based on a piece of pottery that she really liked. She however did not like that color painted on her kitchen walls. If you look closely you can see the previous paint color, a warm and rich brown.
Looking into the dining room you can get a sense of the rest of Colleen's house. It's a very warm, inviting, and purposeful home. It is important to help the kitchen colors play nice with the rest of the house. Also, the cabinetry and the granite in the kitchen are top notch, so we want the color to highlight those features especially. I will give you guys another clue, the rest of Colleen's home is not blue - lots of greens, yellows, and warm woods and golds. Here are a few paint colors I recommend from Benjamin Moore.
Here's the tricky bit. I already know which color Colleen chooses. Want to see the results? We picked #4 because there are a lot of red tones in both the cabinetry and the granite. In order to make those starts shine brightest we picked the green option as it's complimentray to red, it all goes back to color theory!
Can you see the green paint playing a supporting role up above the window?
I love what you've done Colleen! Thanks for sharing the before and after shots on 2nd and Strand.
*Every Friday we do a post called '2nd Opinion'. These posts are based on reader submissions on home dilemmas they would like a 2nd opinion on. Here at 2nd and Strand we will give our opinions, and invite readers to do the same in the comments or by a poll. To see past 2nd Opinion posts, look on the right hand sidebar at '2nd Opinion' under categories on our site. If you would like to make a submission, follow the link on the left hand side of our homepage! We'd love to hear from you!